The announcement made by the Prime Minister on the 18th of April 2017 about the abolishment of the 457 visa came as a shock to the temporary migrant community, particularly the 457 visa holders. The changes made were so abrupt that lead to confusion, anxiety, and frustration to most of the people who are affected or the ones who will be affected when the new legislation comes into full implementation.
Migration is there to support Australia’s economy and I support getting the right skills and the right people into the country at the right time. However, a day’s notice of the changes leaves no room for preparation for the current 457 visa holders, the 457 visa applicants whom their application is still undecided, and the future 457 (or the TSS) visa applicants.
Effect on current 457 visa holders
As per the new legislation, the current 457 holders will not be affected by this change. This means that the current 457 visa holders can still carry on working in their role until their visa expires and if their employer is happy to sponsor them for a Permanent Residency visa via the ENS 186 TRT route (for 457 holders who stayed in the same role and the same employer for at least 2 years). However, if the employer has decided not to sponsor a current 457 visa holder and this 457 visa holder’s role is off the new lists, the Medium to Long Term Strategic Skills List – MLTSSL (this is the new SOL) and Short Term Skilled Occupation List – STSOL (the replacement of CSOL), then this person will no longer have a chance to get a Permanent Residency visa under the General Skilled Migration stream.
For example, I have a client who is a Production Manager (Manufacturing) on a 457 visa. This role was taken off the new list STSOL on the 19th of April 2017. This client can still stay in Australia until his 457 visa expires. However, if his employer decides not to sponsor him on an ENS 186 visa TRT then, he has to leave Australia. This particular client has been working here in Australia with his partner for four years and has made Australia their new home. Imagine if this was you and your employer decided not to sponsor you, then you will never have the chance to come and live in Australia again.
Effect on current 457 visa applications that are still undecided
Now, this is the most abrupt and harsh change that can be very difficult to handle if you are in the shoes of people who got a job offer, an employer willing to sponsor them and have a 457 visa application submitted before the announcement. If the 457 visa applicants’ role is off the STSOL and MLTSSL lists, then they have no choice but to withdraw their application or their application will be refused. How does that play for someone or even their whole family who have started selling their properties, furniture, car, in preparation to move to Australia? Does anyone think about these people? Well, I do. It is so heart breaking to deliver these clients the news that they cannot come and work in Australia anymore because of these changes.
I do have a pending 457 visa application (submitted but still undecided) for a Sales and Marketing Manager and we are very fortunate that this role is still in the STSOL. However, additional requirements for this role was introduced including a salary of no lower than $65,000 and the sponsor should have a turn-over of at least $1M. Not many sponsors will meet these new requirements but in this client’s case, the employer can satisfy these and we can then carry on with his application. This is not good for pending 457 visa applicants whom their sponsor can neither satisfy the new requirements nor offer a direct Permanent Residency sponsorship through the ENS 186 TRT route.
Effect on new 457 applications
Now for those who have submitted their application after the announcement, the new STSOL and MLTSSL lists apply. If you are not in the list, you are not eligible to apply. If you are on the MLTSSL list, your visa can be granted up to four years and you can still have a pathway for a PR visa. However, if your role is in the STSOL, your visa can only be granted for two years and you have no pathway for a PR visa under the ENS 186 TRT route.
I have a pending 457 visa application (not submitted yet) for a Technical Sales Representative (nec). This role is still in the STSOL but new requirements were also introduced including having significant technical knowledge on the products that the applicant will be selling and a salary of at least $65,000 a year. Now, the client still has to check if her sponsor can satisfy this new salary requirement (jumped from$53,900). If the sponsor cannot pay the applicant this much then she loses the chance of working in Australia.
In summary, all these new abrupt changes have adverse effects to the temporary migrant community (whether they are already here in Australia or still overseas) whose occupations were removed from the skills lists and to those whose occupations stay on the STSOL. In my own opinion, this damages the image of Australia as a destination for skilled migrants in the global scale. This creates fear and distrust on the Australian immigration policies, which I believe were necessary changes but the implementation was so fast and the migration industry body was not even given a heads up.